Tag Archive: Elephants

It’s our first time in Sri Lanka. And I confess that my personal knowledge of this country that used to be called Ceylon has been so limited before we got here. Oh sure, Sri Lanka or Ceylon evokes memories of that fragrant tea, spicy curry, and elephants. We’ve been here only 2 days but feel we’ve come to know so much more about Sri Lanka than those guide books will tell us. Like it’s a haven for bird lovers. I can only wish I knew more about birds as we spotted them in Minneriya National Park.

We just couldn’t pass up the chance to see Sri Lankan wildlife. Never mind that we didn’t expect much beyond elephants and deer and peacocks. No leopards here; the guide books say they are found in the Yala National Park. Other guide books say they are also found here, along with the sambar deer. I would have wanted to see one in the wilds, having missed this among the Big 5 in my African Safari some years back. But a big herd of elephants is good to watch. Elephants of varying sizes; the baby ellies with their moms. A couple of these huge beasts moved towards our safari jeeps and we promptly backed up. We were 3 jeeps in all. And we thought this entire spectacle is good enough for wildlife viewing today.

Formerly a wildlife sanctuary, Minneriya was declared a national park 20 years ago. It is located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka and is claimed to be home to the biggest herd of Asian elephants that gather on the banks of the Minneriya Reservoir. Though the “gathering” peaks during the drought around August- September, we found a good size this early March. Wildlife activitists would be happy for this natural phenomenon. So would bird lovers and the environmentalists. Let’s just hope tourism advocates don’t get overboard promoting this place. At the time we visited, we were only 3 safari jeeps around The Gathering, but more such safari jeeps can block the paths of these elephants and agitate them. Speaking of which, Minneriya authorities can limit the number of visitors and safari jeeps at any one time. I don’t know, perhaps they do this already. I am no wildlife nor environmental expert. Just a happy spectator this breezy afternoon. ๐Ÿ˜Š

(Thanks, Topper, for the last 3 beautiful shots!)

(Thanks for this group photo, Rick C. We had fun, huh?)

More photos (from Angel) below:

Ebony and Ivory. Black and White. Remember the Beatles song composed by Paul McCartney? Named “Song of the Century” this song assumes more relevance as South Africa struggled out of apartheid to give more meaning to the song’s message of whites and blacks living in harmony.



From Cape Town through Barrydale and Oudtshoorn to Knysna with sleepovers along the way in the lovely landscape, seascape and flynbo gardens of South Africa. I wanted to see them elephants in the wilds. So, why here in Knysna Elephant Park?




We hold hands. They hold trunks. Sweet!


Remember Paul McCartney’s Ebony and Ivory?



Well, these are abandoned elephants now cared for in a controlled but free-range environment just outside the lovely town of Knysna. For a few rands, you can buy buckets of apples and oranges to feed the elephants. Amazing how these young mahouts trained these animals to stand behind a metal bar, waiting to be fed, every time a tractor “van” unloads park visitors. My only regret is that the baby elephants are blocked out by the bigger ones come feeding time. Once I tried feeding the baby who was reaching out with his trunk to pick up an orange, only to be loudly and angrily shooed off by the adult elephant. The not so little one scampered off. Hungry. Poor baby. ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜




Ready with our buckets full of apples and oranges!


Here, Baby. Mommy has a bucketful of oranges for you! Sssshhhh….



I’m sure it’s an altogether different experience seeing them in a wildlife park. But the vastness of this park assumes a natural habitat where they graze freely, even if their residents are a little spoiled and “bucket-fed” by park visitors. Since you can’t get up close to one in the wilds without risking being trampled upon by these beasts, this experience is good for first-timers like us. Interestingly, many safari accidents involved elephants more than lions, leopards or some other fierce animals. Just remember that an elephant’s foot, measured in circumference, multiplied by 2.5 approximates its height. So, if you’re following some elephant tracks in the wilds, you’d have an estimation of this animal’s size.




Mommy Elephant or Daddy Elephant? (AT KNYSNA ELEPHANT PARK)


More park visitors off the tractor van. More food!



Feeding the elephants should be an exciting experience for kids. If I was thrilled getting an elephant’s trunk hover and snatch up the orange on my palm, what kid won’t? Yet for all its size, I am amazed how gently and quietly these big animals move. A big one can sneak right behind you and snatch that apple or orange before you’re ready! One actually nudged one of the ladies, nearly pushing her back with the elephant’s trunk. Naughty elephant! so remember NEVER to turn your back on an elephant. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜




One of the lady visitors got a nudge on the back. Naughty elephant!


My Sweet Caroline! (At Knysna Elephant Park. South Africa)



Gentle giants. That’s what they are. Moody, maybe. But they have such a sweet, endearing nature. Men as predators of these gentle creatures make me sick. Those beautiful tusks are their curse. Many of the elephants in Knysna Park were orphaned when poachers killed their parents to retrieve those prized ivory tusks. Knysna provided a sanctuary for them. One can only wish time will come when these animals are spared from poaching and allowed to live in the wilds without the threat of extinction.




They’re moody. They’re sentimental. They’re sweet. Orphaned elephants in this sanctuary in Knysna are cared for with tons of love and affection.



TRIVIA: Male elephants are called bulls. Females are cows. And the baby elephants are calves. Just like cattle. When you see a herd of elephants, it’s likely the adult elephants are cow elephants. All female. Why? The bull elephants stay with the herd only till the young reach puberty. Then they’re on their own, coming back only for mating purposes. Those bastards! (Excuse my French)